Since we are all (slowly, slowly) starting to emerge from our cocoons, let’s review how to pack for that too-too-too fab vacances you have planned. Yes, fine, it is only to Des Moines but if you don’t live in Des Moines, then Des Moines counts as vacation, as does Wolverhampton. We cannot all be blessed (although we should all be blessed) with friends who own large houses in Côte d’Azur or Positano.
To begin: you must be organized and have an empty bookshelf. This is where you stash stuff that you want to remember to take with you and little notes on scrap pieces of paper. Don’t overthink this, simply put things on that shelf as you remember and scribble on post-it notes.
But wait, you protest, you are not so organized (sigh, are we truly related?) and you don’t have an empty shelf and… Stop whinging! Darling, do you think I was born yesterday? I was organizing other people’s lives when your mother was still dating men who wore plaid shorts. But of course Auntie has a solution if you live in a small apartment. Simply toss the items into your suitcase or a tote that you aren’t going to use in the next week. The point is to have a PLACE to fling things that isn’t in your way so as you think of things to bring, you can stash them and forget until it’s time to pack.
Of course figure out pet-sitters and rides to the airport early, but don’t worry about ‘what to bring’ until 2 or 3 days before. Then put all the stuff on your “to-bring” shelf and your suitcase on your bed. (Of course you bed is made up as you make your bed every day when you get up, ahem!)
Then toss whatever you feel like on the bed, put on good music, sort and pack. (Yes, I know there are those people who have special mini-vacuums to pull air out of bags and such-like. NO. Unless you are doing a major international trip in which you must bring presents for 26 relatives, don’t bother with those.)
Grown-ups can travel for a week/ 10 days with a carry-on case – so be a grown-up. Traveling with children requires a lot more and traveling with men means checking a bag because you will probably need to bring an ax and shovel. Few, few I tell you, are the men who can properly travel. If they can silently rise and leave the room, returning with the right kind of morning drink and pastries you won’t need the shovel. (Keep the ax in case he makes threatening noises as you head towards the 9th gift shop in a row. Myriad are the delights of gift shops!)
Roll things, have little cloth bags to put your shoes in, cases for jewelry and beauty supplies and above all be realistic. You don’t need 5 long-sleeved shirts for Key Largo in June but you need them in Geirangerfjord.
As you pack, use one piece of paper and at the top write things you still need to pack (like phone charger!); at the bottom write out things to remember to do for your house before you go (Yes, unplug the TV!). Keep only one list – stick it to the fridge if need be.
The night before you leave the hotel, do the same thing – put everything you own and the suitcase on the bed. Pack. Anything that you are still using put in three places only: bathroom next to sink, bedside table and desk next to phone.
If at all possible, get travel stuff that is bright-colored and I do declare, you will never lose it: neon green phone charger cord, electric blue glasses case, hot pink refillable shampoo containers, yellow cosmetic bags. This is why you put everything on the bed to pack when you leave: hotel sheets are white, but everything else in the room (including rug) is dark. Your precious Mac lipstick will blend into a black marble countertop, pop it into a zippered pouch with a tangerine design and your lipstick will be with you forever.
Lastly, before you leave hotel room – turn ALL the lights on. Desolate was a dear friend who had the most charming little black dress which slipped off its hanger and fell, unseen, to the floor of the closet. Dear friend didn’t realize what had happened until she was two countries away.
Remember to bring snacks and, if possible, a water bottle full of champagne (with a few mint leaves and slices of lime for vitamin c), just what you need for surviving all the new travel regulations and, with a mask on, no one knows how many sips you have taken!